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Techomancers ... Are they really an issue?

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Banshee

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« on: <03-11-16/1025:25> »
I'm probably sticking my face into a hornets nest here but I see a lot of comments about Technomancers needing "fixed" and I don't see the issue.

So my question to you all here is ... Can you show me specific examples with backup of why you think they need fixed?
This is just so I can get a handle on things and not meant to start any kind of flame war or massive debate (yet anyway  ;))
Robert "Banshee" Volbrecht
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Whiskeyjack

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« Reply #1 on: <03-11-16/1042:15> »
I see a lot of comments about Technomancers needing "fixed" and I don't see the issue.
Oh, you sweet summer child.  :P ;)

So my question to you all here is ... Can you show me specific examples with backup of why you think they need fixed?
I'll start out by saying there are a plethora of threads and posts in threads on this issue, primarily in this subform (Rules) which are readily available with a couple searches.

http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=20066.0 This thread also talks about building them effectively, and in doing so, implicitly discusses the problems with them as they stand.

If nobody else has chimed in by the time I take my lunch break, I will try to go into more detail.
« Last Edit: <03-11-16/1051:46> by Whiskeyjack »
Playability > verisimilitude.

Sendaz

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« Reply #2 on: <03-11-16/1103:11> »
At first I was not sure this wasn't just a troll thread to yank TM's chains, but maybe I am a bit more disturbed that it's a Demo team member asking because now I wonder what exposure they have had already that they did not feel there was an issue. 

This may be a TJ Fallacy* in the making, however in any case the question was asked so here we go.

Please note that my own personal preference has always been for mages, but I can see some of the reasons folks have issues with the TMs as they currently are.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard has been Drain/Fading values for similar effects compared to their magic equivalent as well as the extra hoops you have to jump through to get them.

Quote from: Core pg 252
PUPPETEER
Target: Device • Duration: I • FV: L + 4
You push Resonance commands into a target, forcing
it to perform a Matrix action. Pick a target and a
Matrix action for it to perform. Make a Software + Resonance
[Level] v. Willpower + Firewall test with a threshold
based on the type of action: 1 for a Free Action, 2 for
Simple, and 3 for Complex.
If you succeed, the target
performs that Matrix action as its next available action.

Compare this to a Control Action /Control Mind Spells
Quote from: Core pg 292-293
CONTROL ACTIONS
(MENTAL)
Type: M Range: LOS
Duration: S Drain: F – 1

CONTROL THOUGHTS
(MENTAL)
Type: M Range: LOS
Duration: S Drain: F – 1

Now Control Actions means you have to use your own skill to perform actions while Control Thoughts comes in closer making the target use their own skills.

Note in neither spell is there a threshold to clear that is dependant on the action you wish the target to take as there is for Puppeteer.

So if a mage is bucking against 5 less drain on any given roll than the TM and if I want the guy to do complex actions I do not have the same threshold requirement that TM has if he wants whatever he is usurping to take a complex action.

Personally I do like the concept of threshold affecting what level of action your target can take and have been toying with the idea for using on the mages, but I am not sure it is the best implementation so it is still in testing phases for our table.

You also have to take into account that Puppeteer is Instant Duration, one use and its over while Control is sustained so the TM is taking a lot more drain for a lot less actionability because they have to suck down another cup 'o Fade if they want another action done while my mage may still have his target under his control given that breaking free is damn hard when used at a reasonable force level.

*TJ fallacy: A specific problem in a game is not really a problem if your table just ignores the problem or makes up reasons why it's not a problem through roll-playing.

« Last Edit: <03-11-16/1116:40> by Sendaz »
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Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #3 on: <03-11-16/1117:10> »
In no particular order of importance:

1. Fade Values for Complex Forms are far too high for what they do, especially when compared to Drain Values of Spells
Example 1: Compare Puppeteer (FV L+4) vs Mind Control (FV F-1). The latter allows you to literally control what a person thinks and as such his actions; the latter allows you to trick a matrix Device into believing something happened.

2. No means to reduce Fade Values and few ways to reduce Sustaining penalties
Comment: Technomancers are quite clearly modeled on the Magician ruleset. Compare Resonance vs Magic, Complex Forms vs Spells, Fade vs Drain, Level vs Force, Spirits vs Sprites. But unlike Magicians, Technomancers have no way to reduce Fade (i.e. no access to Reagents) and limited ways to reduce Sustaining penalties (i.e. no access to Foci). This makes it much more difficult to thread high-Level Complex Forms or summon high-Level Sprites, as well as using multiple Complex Forms at once, unless you build a character with high Edge or Qualities like Focused Concentration (see next point) and/or focus on prolific use of Drugs.

3. Extremely resource intensive to build meaning one has to focus on one thing to the exclusion of virtually all else
Comment: Creating a Technomancer with any of the standard build systems means making a lot of compromises; with Matrix attributes dependent on Mental Attributes, and with no way to rearrange Matrix attributes like a decker can with an 80¥ program, a Technomancer will need high attributes both for skill tests but also for limits. While they need little to no gear, the heavy dependencies on attributes and skills usually means you're forced to give up any decent skills used in the flesh. In other words, it's almost impossible to build a Combat Technomancer in the kind of way you can build a quite effective Combat Decker.

4. Vague rules
Example 1: Continuing the trend of the Matrix being challenging to work with because it's so abstract, a lot of GMs interpret the Complex Form Resonance Veil very differently; if you can use it to trick a device into thinking it just invited a MARK to you, what does that mean in gameplay terms?
Example 2: As per the above, can Puppeteer be used to force a device to perform actions one would normally need owner rights for? These are just two examples of the many, many questions that have been asked on this forum alone.
Example 3: Just what does Diagnostics work on?
Example 4: The Matrix chapter of the Core Book and the entire Data Trails book doesn't really deal with how teamwork tests between a Technomancer and his sprites are supposed to work (or between a Decker and his Agent(s), for that matter). Can a Technomancer summon sprites within a host? How is the Overwatch Score calculated when a Technomancer who is performing an Illegal action is assisted by a Sprite?

5. Inefficient mechanics
Personal opinion: Technomancers do not have anything in particular going for them that a Decker can't do better for less. If a Technomancer is supposed to be different from a Decker, they need, in my opinion, something to set them apart from Deckers in a more obvious way. While Technomancers CAN perform some of the same duties as a Decker, they have to invest far more for far less direct benefits, and are in general, at least if you go by the opinions posted on this forum, simply less efficient at being a team's Matrix Specialist.
Example 1: Take programs; hugely useful pieces of gear that mostly cost 250¥ or less each. A Technomancer has to take an Echo, costing at least 13 Karma, to gain access to ONE of these programs.
Example 2: The Skinlink echo. Again, at least 13 Karma for a Technomancer to gain the benefits of Direct Connections, and only 70¥ for a Decker who uses Trodes or 1000¥ for a Decker with a Datajack.
Example 3: On the subject of Datajacks;  Noise Reduction. A Decker can stack up on noise reduction like a kid at Halloween in America; datajack(s), ear implants, vectored signal filters. A Technomancer is reduced to a piece of signal boosting cloth, which the Decker can also use, as well as Complex Forms which then means he's taking sustaining penalties.
Example 4: Sprites have many distinct, short-term abilities and few long-term ones. While a Spirit can help a magician by concealing the whole team for literally hours as a single service, a Sprite can help a Technomancer one ONE hacking test for the same one service. An extreme example to be sure, but a good example of how diverse the rules can be none the less. The one exception to this is Cleaner, which a Technomancer can use on a Sprite at low Level to essentially do a long-term hack while keeping the Sprite's OS low for a very long period of time.

6. One Trick Ponies
Personal opinion: One of the few ways to make "efficient" Technomancers is to rely heavily on comiling and registering Sprites. However, it's almost impossible to make a Netcat or Puck level "master of the Matrix" type Technomancer without pouring hundreds, if not thousands of Karma into them. To my mind, Technomancers and Deckers should both be capable of fulfilling the Matrix Specialist role, like they did in 4th, where the TM focused on Stealth while the Hacker focused on speed. This is something that just isn't present in 5th Edition (yet).

I think those are my main personal gripes about Technomancers in 5th, and partly why I've chosen to just not allow them at all at my table.
« Last Edit: <03-11-16/1138:46> by Herr Brackhaus »

FST_Gemstar

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« Reply #4 on: <03-11-16/1225:05> »
6. One Trick Ponies
Personal opinion: One of the few ways to make "efficient" Technomancers is to rely heavily on comiling and registering Sprites. However, it's almost impossible to make a Netcat or Puck level "master of the Matrix" type Technomancer without pouring hundreds, if not thousands of Karma into them. To my mind, Technomancers and Deckers should both be capable of fulfilling the Matrix Specialist role, like they did in 4th, where the TM focused on Stealth while the Hacker focused on speed. This is something that just isn't present in 5th Edition (yet).


I don't have much energy for this right now but this is a big one for me. It is just very difficult to both make a specialized matrix specialist technomancer that can go toe-to-toe with a matrix specialist decker and a technomancer that can be a specialist in other areas. Characters with magic ratings, mundanes, and  cybered characters have the potential of excelling in lots of different game roles (combat, social, legwork, overwatch, infiltration, matrix, etc.) with of course magical characters having some option to excel in in the magical. Part of the fun of Shadowrun for me is that there are lots of ways to get to similar effects/outcomes, and building characters that mix and match to get there is part of that fun. It's tough for a starting technomancer (or even a lots of karma technomancer) to keep up with decker in the matrix. Now, I would argue that technomancers should not be played like deckers, but it seems that lots of GMs seem to think that technomancers can and only play matrix specialist roles and play like deckers. This really invalidates the concept of technomancers as skillful and unique in the matrix. This concept also limits other areas technomancers could shine in (hybridizing/matrix support), and is further limited by just the sheer mechanical requirements for technomancers as previously mentioned. I am not opposed to technomancers having tight builds, I just wish they got more play and fun out of having them (as opposed to just getting by).  I also don't like that they are most stuck to "class" in a game that doens't have classes. The only consensus seems to be that technomancers can play as decking petnomancers, but anything that is past that (and even as a pet class GMs often find them too annoying) is just mechanically very difficult or deemed out of hand. Alternative character generation has helped a little, but priority it is often, Meta: D, Attributes: A/B, Resonance: A/B, Skills: C, Resources: E, or bust.

Quote
2. No means to reduce Fade Values and few ways to reduce Sustaining penalties
Comment: Technomancers are quite clearly modeled on the Magician ruleset. Compare Resonance vs Magic, Complex Forms vs Spells, Fade vs Drain, Level vs Force, Spirits vs Sprites. But unlike Magicians, Technomancers have no way to reduce Fade (i.e. no access to Reagents) and limited ways to reduce Sustaining penalties (i.e. no access to Foci). This makes it much more difficult to thread high-Level Complex Forms or summon high-Level Sprites, as well as using multiple Complex Forms at once, unless you build a character with high Edge or Qualities like Focused Concentration (see next point) and/or focus on prolific use of Drugs.

Technomancers can have registered sprites sustain CFs and use Edge to thread puppeteer at lower fade, but because of the lack of parity with magicians, these feel unusual/cheap to a lot of GMs. They don't feel great for technomancers either, it isn't a lot of fun for a group to wait for technomancers to register a lot of sprites with lots of services, call different ones up to sustain complex forms and add dice to other complex forms and keep track of all of them. But, this seems to be how technomancers work.  Technomancers and Drugs seem to go hand in hand as technomancers (unlike magicians) don't have a resonance way to increase phyical initiative. Sure they get Matrix initiative dice, but so does anyone with a commlink. Drugs (and I guess lightning reflexes) are the only ways to increase initiative without 'ware.




The vague rules: This is really griping for me, as it allows for a lot of shutting down technomancer characters trying to make their characters work. Lots of GMs seem to have an idea that technomancers are mechanically bad AND that anything that in the rules or playstyle that isn't strictly decker-like that might make them less bad is unlawful. This less requires a "fix," but more of just a top down more clear, and non-contradictory set of rules. It isn't about making technomancers "better" or not, just clear on their limits, the kinds of things they can do, and how their powers interact with the rest of the world. If you scroll this forum, there are sooo many rules clarification questions for technomancers that just don't have answers.  This creates a lot of frustration/friction, and is really discouraging to even attempt playing a technomancer at a lot of tables as it just is a recipe for not fun.
See topics like (Sprites and Noise, Resonance and Noise more generally, uses of Puppeteer/Resonance Veil, how does matrix teamwork work, how is Diagnostics supposed to work, how do sprites interact inside/outside of hosts, can 'ware paid for with essence be used to direct connect with a living persona [datajacks, control rigs, induction receivers in cyberlimbs], do you need a datajack to get the Otaku to Technomancer Quality, can sprites with electronic warfare "inhabit" drones and use their skills to perceive,  etc.)

Magic /Resonance Parity:
This can be about fade/drain but I think more importantly it is about scope. A magic rating just goes a lot further than a Resonance rating and a character can get one without sacrificing as much for a Resonance rating. There is also a magical vs. technological divide that a lot of people get stuck on. Folks can suspend their disbeliefs for effects of magical powers, but often require very technical explanations of how Resonance powers/Sprites/CFs are supposed to in real life technologically work. Now, I'm not an engineer so I don't necessarily have very technical explanations, but I know full well that no player of a magic user is an actual magician who can explain how their character's magic works in real life detail. Nor are the abtractions of future technology presented in shadowrun supposed to have detailed player understanding.  For magic users, people get "this is as game. Magic is just magic. Sure go ahead and FLY and HEAL with a low drain spell." For technomancers, it's  "but how does that electronic processor relate to that one? That isn't possible with technology. That's cheap to to use this power this way even though a magician could do it easily and because hey, it's magic (or even a cybered character can easily do, because hey, it's future tech). You're getting too many dice, you can't do that! (even though magical/cyber/edge ways of getting same number of dice are not questions, but even encouraged)

I guess this a long way of saying that while in game lore we are still not quite so sure what the Resonance is and how it relates to Magic, in game mechanics, it should be very clear that Magic and Resonance are both fantastical constructs that function in similar ways. Resonance is not any less magical than magic. I often want to just refer to Resonance as a kind of magical tradition called Infotech Magic (along the lines as of a possession tradition), sprites as Data Spirits, and CFs a new category of spells called Matrix spells. Just to be more clear that Resonance functions as magic as much as Magic functions as magic.

Also. Check the very lengthly thread regarding the new TM book in the Rules section. Lots to comb through.

Banshee: I would love to see some posts of demo-team technomancer characters and how they function in different scenarios.
« Last Edit: <03-11-16/2155:40> by FST_Gemstar »

Darzil

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« Reply #5 on: <03-11-16/1238:22> »
The above. Personally I think that if Technomancers didn't exist and only Deckers did we'd see complaints about Deckers instead.

The fact that Deckers are usually better using guns than decks in combat, outside of niche circumstances (single target with poor matrix defences, much cyberware and high physical defences for example - or much time to prepare an ambush whilst able to hack unknowing targets) is an issue. I still struggle to believe that the 'cheaper' decks even exist, giving as they do limits lower than a crude basic weapon. The choice of decks basically fall into categories of traps (don't give enough limit to succeed), ok and traps (give more limit than you can hit at crazy prices).

That Technomancers are significantly inferior to that is worrying and true.

In some ways they are both odd classes, as they work in a different sphere to other characters, usually, which by a GM can be tuned to suit the character. If they GM does this, though, their abilities are largely irrelevant as a result! What they really need is a way to be as effective as each other in the matrix, in different ways, AND to be effective at something in the other spheres so they can play with others.

FST_Gemstar

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« Reply #6 on: <03-11-16/1314:28> »
Darzil: I would say the Little Hornet, some choice qualities (Overclocker/Perfect Time), and some cheap programs lets a decker have at least Rating 6 in a matrix attribute basically whenever they want. This also allows for a Resources C Decker without problem. It frees up the character to get a lot of Edge, Attributes, get a magic rating, or get more resources for 'ware (and even physical boosters) without sacrificing being a very competent decker. Technomancer build are usually a lot tighter. There is an inverse relationship between Resonance/"ware so if a techno goes that route it is very judicious and often resource/quality intensive. Even max mental attributes aren't going to beat a 6+ in any matrix attribute that a basic deck can get, and if skills go beyond hacking, Edge/Resonance are going to take a big hit. If they want to do things besides hack, Skill proficiencies are probably going to take the hit (as usually require investment in compiling/registering/software at levels that deckers do not).


Again. I think technomancers need more clarification and lore expansion than anything else, allowing for GMs to better grasp their playstyles and incorporate them into their games without thinking them too special/annoying.

Banshee

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« Reply #7 on: <03-11-16/1317:36> »
At first I was not sure this wasn't just a troll thread to yank TM's chains, but maybe I am a bit more disturbed that it's a Demo team member asking because now I wonder what exposure they have had already that they did not feel there was an issue. 


first off, my exposure has been quite extensive actually I'm not just a Demo team member I'm the Lead Agent so I have personally overseen over a 1000 tables of Shadowrun played at conventions and have read that many or more After Action Reports of events and was just curious because I don't see in any of those instances of a Technomancer being an issue. What I see most often is that players and GM's both do not a full grasp of what they are capable of, or that they over complicate things. In fact I have had many GM's who have straight up said they do not allow TM's because they do not understand them, but once I walk them threw their abilities and compare them to magicians using the matrix in lieu of astral, complex forms for spells, and sprites for spirits it is amazing how many light bulbs come on that point. All in all, I am just seeking to see if that is the same sort of issue I see here on the forums without having to go back and dig through countless threads that are mostly just complaining.

also with that said, there is already a lot of information here for me to digest and I thank you all for it so far
Robert "Banshee" Volbrecht
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Former RPG Lead Agent
Catalyst Demo Team

FST_Gemstar

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« Reply #8 on: <03-11-16/1328:09> »
Quote
In fact I have had many GM's who have straight up said they do not allow TM's because they do not understand them, but once I walk them threw their abilities and compare them to magicians using the matrix in lieu of astral, complex forms for spells, and sprites for spirits it is amazing how many light bulbs come on that point.

Definitely This!

Thanks for explaining this, Banshee. I have developed a technomancer attitude test at tables by simply mentioning technomancers in a sentence. If a GM gives a side-eye, makes any goofy comments about technomancers and their station in the game, etc., I don't even try to play a technomancer at the table. I know it's just not going to be very fun for me or the group. The Corebook gives very little explanation for TM playstyles, coupled GMs not always having a good grasp of matrix rules let alone technomancer rules, disagreements about technomancer rules, a technomancer character generation example that does not showcase technomancer abilities/style at all, and very little added in Data Trails about technomancers, makes a lot of GMs just not play with them or play well with them. Thank you for explaining things to GMs and players. What I hope for most out of  a TM  specific book is more of these explanation on the page (as you see, fixes aren't the big problem - it is misunderstanding/prejudice that is most problematic).
« Last Edit: <03-11-16/1400:48> by FST_Gemstar »

Kincaid

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« Reply #9 on: <03-11-16/1420:40> »
This was another thread, partly inspired by the Petnomancer thread linked earlier, that I started about TM tactics a little while ago.

http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=21487.0

I'm hoping to run a crew that includes a TM through Killing Pawn sometime soon-ish.  If I get around to it, I'll try to post the results of the session here.
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Mirikon

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« Reply #10 on: <03-11-16/1430:53> »
I'm probably sticking my face into a hornets nest here but I see a lot of comments about Technomancers needing "fixed" and I don't see the issue.
As we say down South, bless your heart!

So my question to you all here is ... Can you show me specific examples with backup of why you think they need fixed?
This is just so I can get a handle on things and not meant to start any kind of flame war or massive debate (yet anyway  ;))
To get where most of us are coming from, you gotta go back to 4th edition, and see what TMs were like back then. See, TMs and hackers were two 'evolution paths' of the same coin. For the most part, they did the same things, in slightly different ways, but the same things, with the same rules and about the same restrictions. It was the difference between Tactical and Strategic superiority.

Tactically, a TM was superior to hackers due to their ability to change things up on the fly, boosting their stats or skills, compiling sprites, and so on, giving them far better adaptive capabilities. Of course, those capabilities came with drawbacks, as well. Like mages, they required decent (if not better) mental stats across the board to work, since their virtual personas used their mental stats. They also couldn't use nuyen to buy their programs (complex forms) or agents (sprites) This was a substantial investment of BP at chargen and karma later, for both their stats and skills, as well as their forms and registering sprites. And unlike a spellslinger, who could come back from the Astral and still be effective on the material, a TM out of the matrix or a drone was basically a sitting duck. And using their physical and stun tracks as their matrix track meant that they could quickly become glass cannons.

Which brings us to hackers and their strategic superiority. While they didn't fly as high as TMs, they also didn't have the crippling weaknesses. They had oodles more BP to put into things that either gave them secondary roles, or allowed them to be better at what they did in both the real and virtual worlds. They could take cyberware upgrades that allowed them to not be a burden in combat. They might get dumpshock from matrix combat, but it wouldn't send them into overflow before the run had even started. And so on. TMs were for gamblers, while hackers were more reliable.

Enter 5th edition, and we have TMs keeping all their old drawbacks, and then losing their versatility on top of it! Now deckers are both strategically and tactically superior, and a TM has to be extremely focused, almost to the point of being a one trick pony, to start being competitive with a decker in that niche. Deckers are able to switch their stats and programs around basically at will, giving them far superior tactical abilities, while they remain the strategic choice, not having the TM's (now) crippling weaknesses.

And that doesn't even TOUCH on Rigging. Back in 4th, anyone with a matrix connection could rig. They might not be (and probably weren't) any good, but if you couldn't think of a way a simple drone with little more than a camera could help your run, you weren't thinking at all. There was even an entire TM stream (their version of a mage's tradition) devoted to rigging. That got kicked directly in the balls by 5th ed, right before Bubba the Love Troll got started with no lube.

And I could go on, but that talk angries up my blood.
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Hobbes

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« Reply #11 on: <03-11-16/1438:19> »
The TM suffers from "The One True Build" dilemma.  There are basically two (IMO) builds out there that are comparable to other optimized builds.  Both builds are not, what I would call, popular play styles.  Most people playing a TM just want to play a hacker without a deck, and mechanically, TM's are flat out inferior to what a Decker can do.

TMs that are not built, and played, along very narrow mechanical lines will have smaller dice pools and lower limits for Matix tests.  In addition, TMs are weaker in meat space than a Decker due to lack of Nuyen and Essence constraints.  I can build a decker with 14 to 16 dice in most Matrix tests that come up and are "Samurai lite" in meat space.  I can't build a TM to do that unless I heavily invest in Sprites, even then it's a little lacking.

Your standard casual missions game that have minimal to no hacking you'll not see an issue between Decker and TM because hacking plays such a small role.  In non-missions game where hacking is an essential part of the run the difference between a TM and a Decker will be very noticeable.  A well built AR Decker is taking multiple actions, slaving PANs, and can sneak and shoot along with the team.  A TM is slower, simply doesn't have the utility gear and likely can't offer much to the team other than moderate hacking abilities unless they're built to use and abuse a whole herd of Sprites.   

TMs certainly offer some thematically different options than deckers.  But mechanically TMs are *meh* hackers with Sprites and poor meat space utility.

For build examples check out my Decker and TM posts in Wak's archetype challenge thread. 

Technomancer http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=21947.msg398460#msg398460

and Decker  http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=21947.msg401022#msg401022

Note, that isn't even a particularly optimized decker due to the constraints of the challenge.  Remove the skill constraints and the Decker picks up two dice on every hacking skill and loses a couple throw away skills.  The TM won't because of the additional need for Resonance skills.  And the Decker benefits much more from additional source books then a TM does.

And with additional source books the Decker's limits quickly shoots past what a TM can have at Chargen.

So, yes, at missions games you probably don't see much issues with TMs because you don't see many issues with any character builds due to the (IMO) low difficulty of missions games.  I've literally posted Mage and Samurai builds that can handle the Critical "hacking" skill tests in the season 5 missions.  It's typically a Hardware test or two, and maybe a low rating Commlink.  The only hackable hosts I recall were optional. 


Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #12 on: <03-11-16/1456:16> »
<znip>
Also. Check the very lengthly thread regarding the new TM book in the Rules section. Lots to comb through.
Not sure if any of that was aimed at me, but if it was you don't have to tell me; I'm painfully aware that Magic is something most people dismiss as "because magic", while the same people look at technology and Resonance and go "Wait, what?". And I think that's common, because most of us probably has at least a working understanding of how modern technology goes, and so we likely also have an innate need for Resonance to make sense.

I personally liked Resonance particularly and the Matrix in general when it was less mystical and more grounded in technology; before the equivalent of in-game engineers going "we don't know really know how to build these "servers" that the Matrix runs on, so we kind of just "grow" them out of this "foundation" thingymabob" when the people responsible for the Matrix and even many of it's users knew what was actually going on.

While the 4th Edition Matrix was time-consuming to fully master, at least it made sense to a lot of people. It's the same argument I've seen with firearms, believe it or not; most people know roughly how a firearm works, and even experts often don't question how all firearms classed as "heavy pistols" use the same ammunition but have different damage codes because as a rules system it works. The Matrix is not the same, because not only do we have a partial analogy in the real world internet, we also don't have a "close enough" mechanical system.

And that's important, as mentioned here:
The above. Personally I think that if Technomancers didn't exist and only Deckers did we'd see complaints about Deckers instead.
The Matrix in 5th Edition has had several tables just handwave the whole thing. So I don't think the Technomancer rules are fully to blame here, I think the Matrix as a whole has some glaring issues (which I've commented on in other threads so I won't pursue that particular agenda here any further).

Again. I think technomancers need more clarification and lore expansion than anything else, allowing for GMs to better grasp their playstyles and incorporate them into their games without thinking them too special/annoying.
I'd definitely agree with this; I was hoping Data Trails would make the Matrix more understandable, but unfortunately (in my opinion only) the writers decided to push forward with what I like to call the Mystical Matrix, making it even less relatable than it was before. This is problematic because obviously, a lot of GMs look at those rules and go "Wait, how does that work?" or even "Wait, that can't possibly be right" and then impose unreasonable restrictions on what hackers, both Deckers and Technomancers, should, by all accounts, be able to do.

I will say that I disagree with the notion that a Technomancer shouldn't be able to be played like a decker; according to the lore, technomancers should be able to be competent hackers. As it stands, that's just not the case because a Decker has so much more to bring to bear against dedicated defenses. The only aspect I see Technomancers being strictly "better" at is stealth, and that's solely because of Cleaner. Again, I personally feel like an aspiring hacker should be able to play either a Technomancer or a Decker and achieve the same thing; sleazing or brute forcing his or her way past firewalls, breaking encryption, and getting away with the paydata while trying to fend off the IC that's chasing them. With the current rules, Technomancers are just at a severe disadvantage in doing that no matter how you turn the mechanics on it's head.

Another big one for me:
Cybercombat
Because a Technomancer doesn't have a Matrix Condition Monitor and instead takes all damage as Stun, they risk their very lives going into the Matrix. A few good hits from a Decker with a high Attack rating and you're sleeping off the unconsciousness for a few hours. Deckers can get a Pain Editor with little to no drawbacks because they're likely cybered up anyway, while a Technomancer loses out on Resonance if he does and according to the fluff he's more likely to disdain such tech in the first place.

What I see most often is that players and GM's both do not a full grasp of what they are capable of, or that they over complicate things. In fact I have had many GM's who have straight up said they do not allow TM's because they do not understand them, but once I walk them threw their abilities and compare them to magicians using the matrix in lieu of astral, complex forms for spells, and sprites for spirits it is amazing how many light bulbs come on that point. All in all, I am just seeking to see if that is the same sort of issue I see here on the forums without having to go back and dig through countless threads that are mostly just complaining.

also with that said, there is already a lot of information here for me to digest and I thank you all for it so far
To my mind, this is part of the problem, but not all of it. If a number of newcomers fail to see the problem with the Technomancer (and/or Matrix) rules, is that a failing of the newcomers or a failing with the way the rules are written?

And I would consider my grasp of the mechanical rules to be quite extensive, yet I don't see any lightbulbs as you put it in terms of how Technomancers are even remotely viable compared to Deckers. And I think that might be another part of the problem; Technomancers CAN be playable, assuming a table uses low to medium sized dice pools (I'd estimate 12 as a high pool). In those conditions you don't need to thread Complex Forms at rating 6 or higher all the time, or compile and register an army of sprites to help you hack. But as evidenced by the character creation subforum on this very board, a lot of people build characters that are much more focused, with dice pools in a primary skill in the 15s or higher. And Technomancers just can't keep up with that.

I also think Mirikon brought up a very good point; a lot of us have experience from previous editions where Deckers and Technomancers were more balanced; they could both achieve the same objective in the Matrix, they just used different methods to do so. Today, that's just not the case.

And finally, Hobbes is spot on; with Missions being designed as a lower-difficulty game, I think Technomancers can do just fine (assuming the GM has an open enough mind to accept the Matrix as more fiction than science), but once you start moving past that level I just don't think that's true any more.


Please do let us know how you get on, Kincaid; it'll be interesting to see how that works out. (PS: I'm very much enjoying reading Shaken: No Job Too Small at the moment; will leave you a review once I finish :) ).
« Last Edit: <03-11-16/1500:04> by Herr Brackhaus »

FST_Gemstar

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« Reply #13 on: <03-11-16/1603:24> »
Quote
Not sure if any of that was aimed at me, but if it was you don't have to tell me;

This was directed to Banshee if more info was needed.

I want to add more but so much has been said so many times over the past few years.

I will respond to this 4th/5th edition issue, as I think there are some carryover issues that impact the way technomancers are viewed. I never played 4th, so I never felt any nostalgia for a different matrix system or the parity between deckers/technomancers. I think it is important to just say the Matrix is not the Internet. It is something else. It resembles something familiar, but it really is something strange and unfamiliar.Not fully understanding something has never prevented metahumanity from seeking to benefit from/monetize it.  Deckers, like scuba divers, use gear/conventional skills to explore/exploit it, but it is vast and unknown. Technomancers should be squidlike, their home is the matrix, and the extent they relate to it should be reflected by their Resonance rating, echoes, and abilities with sprites and CFs. To me, the Matrix isn't magic enough, at least for technomancers. For example, much of the matrix involves getting inside hosts and marking things.  If their only way to get inside a host is getting a mark, then technomancers are required to learn conventional matrix skills like hacking/cybercombat. Because of limitations on sprite matrix actions, it is difficult ( but possible) to get a sprite to do all your conventional hacking for you. However, if it is not clear you can follow a sprite into a host or cast CFs on them from outside a host, then you are even more limited in supporting them. Puppeteering seems to be the only possible way for a technomancer to get a mark without "hacking," but this is dificultt (it should be) and it is unclear if it is even possible. I guess to me, the matrix rules seem designed for deckers and reflect a very conventional matrix, not the more mystical one that is implied. In function, deckers seem much more at home in the matrix while technomancers are less proficient and more in danger there like scuba divers in an ocean. Metahumanity has the knowhow to apply some basic frameworks onto the Matrix that make it work for them in a mechanical sense without having to know everything about it (decking), but technomancers I think should understand the matrix more intuitively and that should be reflected in their mechanics. 

Sprites also I think trip up GMs. For me, they are the mechanic (however cumbersome/clunky but I think it makes them worth it) that converts connection to Resonance (and Resonance skills) to matrix manipulation. To me, a technomancer should be able to "hack" without the skills of a hacker. Sprites can represent this. Their sprites know (and then so to an extent the technomancers seem to know) how to get marks and break out files and snoop and such because they are matrix spirits. It is their home plane. They are also extensions of a technomancer to an extent (they do share resonance signatures). While a decker can slice through a host for paydata, a technomancer can send sprites in to do job while they support them with CFs (diffuse firewalls, clean them of overwatch, distract spiders with resonance veil, etc.). The outcome is the same, just two different ways of going about it. This would extend to machine sprites, the clunky mechanic of converting connection to Resonance to meat world applications. Because the world is wireless now and the Matrix is ubiquitous, machine sprites as a reflection of technomancer power  in this wireless world should have some nifty applications in using the cloud data of the Matrix to achieve supernatural (or for magic users magical or cybered characters supertechnical or for high edge characters superlucky) feats. Forget the technological explanation: if a device is electronic, has an active wireless connection, and used for skill test, diagnostics works on it. The potential increased dice pools are the mechanical way of demonstrating this affinity with Resonance. 

So in all. I am on the side of the Matrix being more mystical than conventional, with the conventional side being more of a metacentric/procedural bias pushed onto it than anything really conventional. One could say after Crash 2.0, what emerged was Resonance. Matrix is just the parts of it nerdy metahumans understand or think they do, or at least can use to reliable ends.  While some lore reflects this, mechanics do not. The matrix as the rules stand is too conventional, making deckers more at home and technomancers the visitors. Being more clear on the lore AND for technomancer rules/abilities will help clean this up tremendously. In general, technomancers and deckers should both be able to be successful as matrix specialists, but I disagree, Herr Brackhaus, that a technomancer should be a competent "hacker" per se (as in knowing a lot about computers/wireless signals/security/etc). No one assesses the competency of a squid to swim the way they would a scuba diver to scuba diving. Squids are just swimmers, they don't have to understand how they do it to be awesome at it.

However, while the squid/scuba diver is used in the books, the mechanics don't measure out. Technomancers tend to have to hack like deckers to be matrix specialists, and hence end up being worse at it and forgo other areas where they could be really helpful (faces/infiltrators, medics, snipers, etc.). Even if they didn't have to, the sprite mechanic makes doing so clunky (lots of diagnostics rolls, re-registering, leaning on sprites for CF boosts, using lots of sprites at the same time, etc.). I like the clunkiness of it, but it does take some game time and can hence be boring to a lot of people waiting. This can cause animosity towards technomancers as characters at a table, with lots of accusations of cheapness and abuse.  I like the low Resonance 'wared up technomancer builds that reflect a kind of denial of Resonance powers in favor for more conventional competency (higher mental attributes/ "decking" dice pools, cyberlimbs for shooting, but still enough resonance to hack without a deck,etc.)  But I don't expect most technomancers to play like this or have to.
« Last Edit: <03-11-16/1639:22> by FST_Gemstar »

Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #14 on: <03-11-16/1638:12> »
For what it's worth, FST_Gamestar, we don't actually disagree on Technomancers having to be good "hackers". I think they should be able to be good hackers if that's how the player views his character, but he shouldn't have to be forced to do so much like he is now.

That's probably where some of the disconnect comes from, to be honest. As you say, you never played 4th and in 4th Technomancers were very viable hackers without using any of the skills a hacker did. They were actually separate skills to represent the different ways of doing things that differentiate hackers and Technomancers.

In short, Technomancers used software almost exclusively, representing their skill at manipulating raw code, while hackers used programs and tools to do their work form them.

I just really wish Technomancers had more options, personally; forcing the use of sprites to be an effective hacker or even real world combatant seems at odds with the very idea of a classless system. That is almost as bad as if Magicians were forced to summon spirits to be effective magicians.

So yeah; we actually couldn't agree more on Technomancers not being "forced" to play a certain way just to be good at what the fluff says they should be good at. The fiction written were Netcat and Slamm-0! are both using the Matrix has them both accomplish much the same just in different ways.

And I would so like to see straight up Technomancers hackers who don't rely on sprites to be elite ;)